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Can We Rightly Judge with Statistics?

The first important question is SHOULD we, as Christians, make judgements on a person, or groups of people, based on Statistics?  Can we rightly judge solely based on statistical analysis?  Why is this even an issue?  It goes to the heart of using statistics to see a need for the gospel.  Of course, everyone, at all times everywhere, need the gospel, even we need the gospel.  But Jesus strategically went to specific areas and the Apostles went to specific areas, whether it was locations or people groups. But how did they rightly judge where to go and who needed what message first.  What does this have to do with racial profiling, prejudice, and rightful judgements?


If there was a community where 98% of the community participated in a survey stating that they are atheists and there was another community where they were all surveyed and was found that 98% were repentant Gospel focused people... it seems that we see a 'greater' situational need for one community over another.  Jesus reveals the distinction in need in Luke 5:31.  Paul makes the same point in Romans 10:14-15.  This seems to justify the application of statistics to recognize a greater need.  But is the judgement discerning more important situational need or a judgement of the people?

What happens when the statistics do not survey the entire community or entire people or nation but only a small portion.  If a people group, we will use Smurfs for our example, has a survey where only 15% of the entire people group is surveyed and the results claim that 98% of Smurfs are atheists;  are we right to assume that the rest of the 85% are more than likely atheists too?  So when we hear about the Smurfs, are we right to assume every individual Smurf is an atheist?  Lets say it another way.  If there are 100 Smurfs, and 15 of them are surveyed, and 14 of them claim to be atheists, can we rightly judge the 85 other non surveyed Smurfs as atheists?  Keep in mind, we have never met these 85 unsurveyed Smurfs.  So, before we meet them, can we assume they don't believe in God? OR do we see a situational need?  Is there a difference?  Lets magnify those numbers.  What if there are 10,000,000 Smurf people and 1,500,000 were surveyed, and 1,400,000 claim to be atheists.  Can we rightly assume the rest of the unsurveyed 8,500,000 other Smurfs are atheists too?   This still leads to the same question.

Lets change the survey focus from "atheism" to "below X house hold income level".  And "X" is determined by an overall societal income average.  If there are 10,000,000 Smurfs and 1,500,000 were surveyed, and 1,400,000 were below X house hold income level.  Can we rightly assume the rest of the unsurveyed 8,500,000 other Smurfs are below X house hold income level too?  No matter the statistical focus, the issue is still the same:  Can we rightly judge all those who were not surveyed based on those who were?  Would it be prejudicial ("a preconceived opinion not based on actual experience") to view the all the other unsurveyed 8,500,000 as impoverished too?

Would it be wrong to assume they are all impoverished, based on their ethnic group and the statistics?  That every time we hear about a person of that people group, can we assume they are more than likely poor?

What if a survey was conducted that showed Smurfs are responsible for more than half of all violent crime.  If you were in a room of Smurfs, would you be justified to feel scared?  For no other reason than them being Smurfs and that stat?  If poverty directly influences crime rates, and Smurfs were surveyed showing they mostly live below the poverty level, would you then also be justified to be scared around Smurfs?  Are these judgements based on their ethnicity and statistics justified?

The premise of the judgement is WHAT justifies us to judge those who we don't personally know.  OR do these kinds of stats lead us to prejudice and profiling?  And is prejudice and profiling wrong?

The Don't Judge Me Crowd

Clearly anyone who feels it is wrong to "judge" anyone are hypocritical when making assumptions about ace based stats.  They are still making a judgement on someone they don't know directly.  Even if they do know the person, and tell the person not to judge them, they have still actually judged that person.  They tell people not to judge them unless they have walked in their shoes but then judge other races based on stats... THAT is telling someone to take the speck out of their eye while you have a log in yours.  The very same hypocritical judgement Jesus is talking about.  If you go around and tell people not to judge you and you actively avoid ANY kind of judgement, you have already failed logically, rationally and, even, become disobedient to Christ (Lev. 19:15; Zech 8:16; John 7:24, 51; Luke 12:57).  We CAN rightly judge and are called to.  BUT, is judging a person based on statistics "rightly judging" or is in sin?

He Said, She Said, so You Must Be.

Would it then still be wrongful to make a judgement (assumption) about someone you have never met even when it is based on stats?  How do you know those stats directly represent that person?  You don't.  You have to apply an ignorant assumption and essentially hope (even have faith in your own judgement) that the stat does represent that person directly.  According to Scripture, an ignorant assumption/ judgement about someone is unjust and not a rightful judgement because it is not based on the truth about that person... but is actually and truly based on a possible truth about someone else (the person(s) surveyed).  It would be no different than believing  gossip or second or third hand-talk about someone else.  Someone spoke to some people, compiled the numbers, published a study, and then apply that ignorantly to someone else you don't even know, with no knowledge if it directly applies to them, simply because of their race.  That is in no way a justified righteous judgement in light of scripture. 

Rightful Judgements - John 7:24

God IS the standard of righteousness and he alone is the author of just judgements (Psalm 7:11, 9:8; Isaiah 33:22).  They are based on KNOWN TRUTHS about THAT specific person.  Jesus tells us absolutely we CAN SEE the fruit of someones heart and KNOW them (Matthew 7:15-20; Luke 6:43-45).  We must first fix ourselves "then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 17:5).  God himself empowers us to be able to rightly judge (Judges 2:18).  We ARE to judge those who profess to know Christ (1 Cor. 5:12), this is how we keep each other accountable to the Lord (2 Timothy 2:25, 3:16; Titus 2:1).  We are called to correct and rebuke each other; which requires us to have the ability to rightly judge (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:20).  Discernment, rightly judging, and correction are to keep unity (Ephesians 4:13; Galatians 6:1), only the hard hearted, self-righteous, fall away.  And all righteous and just judgements come from God, and God has given us his very word (Ephesians 2:20).  John the Baptist corrected Herodias (Mark 6:18-19).  Paul corrected Peter (Galatians 2:11).  They were filled with truth and knowledge (Colossians 1:9) and they obediently reproved and rebuked (2 Timothy 4:2) just as Jesus himself required (Matthew 18:15-17).  ALL of which requires us to have the ability to Judge in the first place.

Assuming the facts before knowing them is a wrongful judgement (Prov. 18:13).  Assuming to know someone based on their looks or gossip is also a sinful humanistic mistake (Luke 7:36-50).  Assuming to be righteous where others are unrighteous, yet, actually falling in the same sin is a hypocritical judgemental error (Romans 2:1; Matthew 7:3-5).  If you hold people to a perfect standard, and judge them for not meeting your self-righteous standard, you are judged by that same standard (Matthew 7:2).  Assuming you are more righteous in your ignorance is sinful humanistic error (James 4:6; Luke 18:9-14).  Assuming you know someone, when in fact you don't, and then judging them based on your false assumption is a sinful untrue judgement (Prov. 19:5). 

Thus we can see the core elements that makes a Godly Righteous Judgement is first having TRUE ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE in direct regards and then discerning the rightfulness or wrongfulness with a clear mind and conscience, according to the whole council of God (Acts 20:27).

Seeing how Holy Scripture speaks about rightful and wrongful judgements, we already see a inconsistency with statistical judgements applied to individuals.

Racial Profiling and Prejudice

Having all these statistical studies can help see potential issues within a society and a situation BUT they are not the identities of the people they test.  Even when it SEEMS harmless and "positive", it is a contrary to Scripture and rightful judgements.  Here's an example:  The NBA is 75% African American. The WMBA is 70% African American [2].  The biggest percentage of NCAA basketball athletes are African American [1].  Lastly, just about all the top high school basketball teams are majority African American [3].  From high school, to college, all the way to the pros.  In every major organized basketball organization the majority of athletes are African American.  Using the same reasoning to justify racial systemic inequality, can it be assumed that African Americans like basketball?  That's a harmless assumption right?  Buying a basketball for an African American teen for his birth day isn't racist right?  Statistics would support the likelihood of him enjoying the gift.  BUT why is there something inherently wrong with this kind of 'harmless' and 'positive' assumption?

The Moral Issue

We are applying what someone else says about another person, to them, and we don't even know if it is true.  We just assume it is.  Its easier to assume something about someone and justify it with numbers from someone else.  The Jews just assumed all Gentiles were hopeless and godless.  They had stats to back up their assumptions about the gentiles.  They did not have The Law of Moses.  They did not have the Writings of The Prophets.  They were not lead out of slavery from Egypt.  They, at that time, and generations prior, were not declared as God's Chosen people.  BUT JESUS destroyed their statistical assumptions.  Jesus GOES DEEPER than their statistically justified judgements.  GOD shows that HIS WILL is more vast than statistical probabilities and averages.  That HUMANS can not calculate and quantify God's Will; and to assume so is our self-righteousness self-idolatry rearing its ugly head- even in the seemingly harmless positive assumptions/judgements.

THE ULTIMATE HYPOCRISY 

It is wrong to assume all African Americans like basketball for the same reason it is wrong to assume all "white" people are privileged.  Both are "positive" conclusions drawn from different areas of statistical data that seem to support and justify the conclusions.  BUT, YOU CAN NOT KNOW if these assumptions are true about an individual UNLESS you KNOW THAT individual personally.  

When you ASSUME YOU KNOW someone, that you actually don't know, you feel RIGHT about your assumed knowledge of them, without really knowing if your are in fact right.  Then, you justify this self-delusion of rightness with statistics that may not even directly relate to that person you don't know.  You are in essence, hypocritically judging them because you don't even know them- and yet, you feel right about them in your true ignorance of them.

To arbitrarily say you CAN assume knowledge of an unknown person, with stats, regarding "positive" and "harmless" ideas; but you CANNOT assume, with stats, regarding "negative" and "offensive" ideas is HYPOCRITICAL.  Logically, one can do both and remain rationally consistent (the moral issue aside).  So lets look at "negative" and "offensive" assumptions that one can (but shouldn't) make justified by statistics.

The Negative and Offensive Stats

According to Jones RK and Jerman J, Population Group Abortion Rates and Lifetime Incidence of Abortion: United States, 2008–2014American Journal of Public Health, 2017.  27% of African Americans, aged 15-44, have had an abortion.  THEREFORE, If we were in a room with 4 African American females ages 15-44; I would then be justified to assume that at least one of them have had an Abortion, simply because of their race and the statistic.  To have this idea, I have assumed I have knowledge of at least one of them, even though I really and truly have no idea about any.

According to the FBI's expanded data chart of 2015 homicides [4]; African Americans kill other African Americans with a rate of 89%; while white on white homicides was at a rate of 81%.  White Americans are killed by African Americans at a rate of 15.7%, but White Americans kill African Americans only at a rate of 5.8%.  From this data we see that in 2015, not only did more same-race murders happen with African American, but African Americans murdered more White Americans than the other way around, and almost by triple the likelihood.   Is a White American fear of African American violence justified?  Is that kind of assumption/judgement right?  Of course not!

There are all kinds of studies being conducted and all kinds of interpretations and assumptions people will make from all these studies BUT we will always come back to the paramount issue:  SHOULD we use all these studies to justify judgements of people we have never met?  and the same question can be asked again:  Can we rightly judge all those who were not surveyed based on those who were?

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

We ARE boasting in our self-righteousness when we believe we are justified in the rightness of our judgements when applying stats to people we have never met, and have no true knowledge of, then drawing a conclusion about that person in our self presumed rightness. 

We THINK we can have the knowledge of God, knowing what we do not know.  We THINK we can be RIGHT in our own knowledge about someone when we, in reality, have no knowledge about that person in direct relation to our assumption and the stat.  We THINK we are JUST in our judgements solely based on what other "experts" tell us about unknown people- yet, we are hypocrites because the judgement is UNJUST because the person is actually unknown and we do not know the truth about that person.

CONCLUSION

Statistics can aid us in opening our eyes to injustice and spotting unjust SITUATIONS and societal trends BUT becomes SIN in our hearts and minds when we believe we can use it and apply it to PEOPLE and know people, we do not actually know.  We then use statistics to self-righteously JUSTIFY racial profiling, where we convince ourselves that we CAN KNOW an unknown person, positive or negative, which feeds our natural inclination of prejudice and self-idolatry- which only leads to one primal thing- racism and hatred.  And that racism and hatred is based all on the ignorant assumptions and judgements applied to people we don't know, all justified initially by stats, then by our sinful hearts.  Collectivism is contrary to God. 

To be absolutely clear.  Statistics and statistical studies CAN aid us in exposing injustice and oppression within a system and society.  Is there currently, within America, systemic racism?  We believe that the statistical data does point to this.  Is there racism of other races in other countries, we think there is evidence to support this as well.  The statistical data reveals the situational issue and points us to a spiritual just focus and a gospel need.  BUT to then continue on and apply the broad statistics to unknown individuals collectively is simply wrong and immoral.  We have NO true knowledge of an unknown person, and therefore, we can not, before God, be just and right in any sort of judgement about that person. We can not be right, and actually in sin, when we assume all African Americans like basketball, using the example previously discussed.  We can not be right, and actual in sin, when we assume all white people are privileged.  Again, that would require us to apply ignorant assumptions collectively to an unknown person to which we have NO true knowledge of. 

The distinction between rightful judging with statistics and sinful judgementalism with statistics is to which the assumption/judgement is applied to.  Situational and cultural awareness or judgement of an individual.  To expose a broken society, or to judge an individual in the society.  To reveal injustice, or to unjustly judge a person.  To rightly see the systemic trends, or to claim to know the unknown individual.  To rightly judge conditions justified by scripture, or to wrongfully judge a person justified by self-righteous ignorance.

This goes to the heart of Social Justice and Civil Rights.  The church needs to SEE the statistical support for modern systemic racism, injustice, and oppression AND stand against the oppression, and injustice; BUT at the same time, be careful not to fall into disunity, dividing the Body of Christ through prejudice, racial profiling, and the untrue falsehoods of collectivism ignorantly justified with all sorts of statistical interpretations.  Ignoring or discrediting systemic racism is dishonest but breaking fellowship and supporting disunity from "white evangelicalism" is equally unjust and unrighteous.  The open willfulness to segregate yourself and your family from other races is sinful for all people.  Peter was rightly and justly rebuked by Paul for this! 

On Sunday, go to a less diverse church, and worship with other Brothers and Sisters in Christ of a different race.  Participate in diversity ministries or less diverse ministries, and serve the Lord together.  Break the sinful wall of prejudice, racial profiling, willful segregation, collectivism, all of are justified by statistics; be a light in the world for unity, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Actually FOLLOW Christ without favoritism or partiality for one race or another. 





1.  2016-2017 http://web1.ncaa.org/rgdSearch/exec/displayResultsPercents.
2.  http://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/17954156/wnba-scores-high-racial-gender-report-card
3.  http://www.maxpreps.com/polls/basketball/xcellent25.htm
4.  https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2015.xls




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